During the mid-to-late 1980s, Britain’s homegrown melodic hard rock scene was blessed with an embarrassment of riches. Birmingham’s own Shy could however easily be distinguished from the pack. And they still can. The band’s origins date back to 1980, when they were known as Trojan. In a fortuitous coincidence, vocalist Tony Mills was available the day before the nucleus of guitarist Steve Harris, keyboardist Paddy McKenna, bassist Mark Badrick and drummer Alan Kelly received an offer to make an album for Ebony Records. They’d already tested the water with the track ‘Tonight’, which featured on the label’s compilation disc, Metal Warriors.
Gradually the music became more commercial and intricate and in late 1983, the debut album, Once Bitten… Twice Shy was released. Referred to parhaps the greatest English pomp rock album of all time” by Kerrang!’s Xavier Russell. Meanwhile, Badrick’s love of kung fu resulted in too many broken fingers and thumbs, so ex-Trouble man Roy Davis succeeded him by the time Shy moved to RCA Records for their next album, recorded with Tony Platt. Impressed by his credentials with Foreigner and AC/DC – Platt was Mutt Lange’s favoured choice of engineer – Tony came to Shy having completed Uriah Heep’s Equator album. A single, ‘Hold On (To Your Love)’, preceded the album’s release but its ambitions were thwarted when Gallup, the chart compilers, objected to a shrink-wrapped T-shirt that accompanied early quantitier>
Shy’s major label debut, Brave The Storm drew further praise from Kerrang! in 1985. This time Paul Suter enthused over Mills’ “unflaggingly excellent” vocals and McKenna’s “admirable” keyboard work was also singled out for attention.There would be an 18-month wait for the band’s next full-album, the interim time being filled with major roadwork supporting Magnum, Twisted Sister, and Bon Jovi, Meat Loaf, Gary Moore and the Hunter-Ronson band. br> During an intensive period of album preparation, RCA proposed the band should relocate to Los Angeles. They wrote the song ‘Break Down The Walls’ with Dokken frontman Don Dokken and fine-tuned a set of quite extraordinary songs. This time they enlisted Dokken/Queensrÿche/FM producer Neil Kernon for the sessions, which took place in Holland.
Released in the spring of 1987, Excess All Areas was easily the band’s best work till that point and remains Shy’s most consistent album. The fans propelled it into Britain’s Top 75, the era’s rock press nodding their approval. Newly launched in the UK, Metal Hammer embraced the cause. “In Steve Harris, Britain has found a guitarist who just might give Bon Jovi’s Richie Sambora a run for his money,” they purred. “The energy level barely drops and even their ballads display a controlled urgency that wraps its arms around you and won’t let go... The next product was Misspent Youth which surfaced via new label MCA who also chose to despatch Shy to America, there they fell out badly with Roy Thomas Baker during pre-production and was less than impressed with the end result. Shortly afterwards, unhappy with the new material and at loggerheads with Alan Kelly, Mills quit. Former XS/After Hours singer John Francis arrived, but although the music was great (check out the demo track ‘What Love Can make You Do’) personnel grievances continued. Enter John Ward, an old band-mate of Davis who’d sung with Slash and Madam X (prior to the arrival of Sebastian Bach). Having briefly adopted the name of Krazy Krazy, the revised unit wisely reverted to Shy for the following year’s Welcome To The Madhouse album. Overseen again by Kernon, its raucousness offered a change of style yet mostly hit the spot. In 2000, Mills agreed to try again with an aptly titled comeback album Unfinished Business causing Classic Rock to remark: “Shy have no business sounding this good. ” The UK’s Fireworks magazine went still further, casting the current Sunset And Vine album – released via MTM Music in February – as the missing link between Brave The Storm and Excess All Areas . “This album raises the banner for the UK melodic rock scene once more,” purred scribe Dave Crockett.